International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2

By Jay M. Shafritz | Go to book overview

and circumstances. Competition among programs can have the same salutary effects that it has in market places. It leaves those in need with more than one place to find a solution, increasing the likelihood that their problem can be addressed. Redundancy helps fill in the cracks in the system of public services.


Solutions to Fragmentation

When fragmentation is a problem, a variety of solutions are available. The most commonly promoted solution, but most difficult to adopt and implement, is consolidation. If fragmentation promotes inequity, inefficiency and governmental ineffectiveness in a metropolitan area, metropolitan government can be a solution. If program and agency fragmentation make it difficult for people to find the service they need and fosters administrative waste, programs and agencies can be consolidated. The problem with this solution, which looks so clean and simple on the surface, is that it is extraordinarily difficult to accomplish. Every program has its advocate, every agency has its protectors, and every government has its officeholders who want to retain control. So many values and interests are affected by consolidation proposals that they seldom succeed.

There are solutions short of jurisdictional or functional consolidation. In metropolitan areas it is sometimes possible to consolidate selected services, even when integration of general government is not possible. Thus, special districts, which contribute to fragmentation in one sense, are a solution to it in another sense. When agencies and programs overlap and duplicate, administrators and policyrnakers can find partial solutions through a variety of coordination mechanisms. Coordinating bodies can be created or appointed to provide a forum for discussion of service linkages, information sharing, and resource allocation. Agencies can agree to divide functional roles in accordance with their strengths. Joint planning offers a way of reducing conflict and waste.

Abundant examples of coordination can be found in the social service, welfare, and employment and training arenas. National legislation often requires the creation of stateand local-level coordinating entities. Thus, the Job Training Partnership Act calls for state job training coordinating committees to advise the governor on employment and training policy and to coordinate the activities of diverse agencies and programs. That same legislation provides for private industry councils, composed of business and government leaders, to guide and coordinate program efforts at the local level. These coordinating bodies use their authority to sign off on various programs as one way of encouraging coordination. They engage in joint planning, share information, and provide a forum for discussion among policyrnakers and administrators of different programs and agencies. They try to make services more accessible and comprehensible to clients by creating one-stop service centers that bring together the services of multiple programs and agencies at one site. Successful efforts include attempts to create consolidated application forms that serve the needs of more than one agency or program. Of course, since coordinating councils have limited resources, authority, jurisdiction, and staffs, they are limited in what they can accomplish. Their success often depends on their ability to help agencies see how cooperation and coordination are in their interest and will serve their ends.

Coordination also can be accomplished through mutual adjustment. Agencies can adjust their own activities to take into account the activities of other organizations and service providers. In the San Francisco ( California) Bay area, for example, multiple transportation authorities have created a reasonable level of coordination through mutual adjustment.


Conclusion

The most difficult aspect of fragmentation is to determine whether it is a problem or a solution. This is partly a matter of analysis but largely a product of the values and orientations one brings to the issue. Interest, values, and perceptions of what is critical substantially shape interpretations of fragmentation.

There are moves under way in the current U.S. Congress to decentralize domestic policy to the states and significantly consolidate a broad range of programs. If successful, these moves would signal a new era of public policy, one in which fragmentation might be much less of a concern on one level (program), but increasingly problematic at another level (interstate). It is also highly likely that the forces of fragmentation would quickly begin to undo what reform had wrought.

EDWARD T. JENNINGS, JR.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Agranoff, Robert. 1991. "Human Services Integration: Past and Present Challenges in Public Administration". Public Administration Review 51 (November-December): 533-542.

Bish, Robert L., and Vincent Ostrom, 1973. Understanding Urban Government: Metropolitan Reform Reconsidered. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute.

Chisholm, Donald, 1989. Coordination Without Hierarchy: Informal Structures in Multiorganizational Systems. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Danielson, Michael, 1976. The Politics of Exclusion. New York: Columbia University Press.

Dye, Thomas D., 1990. American Federalism. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

Harrigan, John J., 1993. Political Change in the Metropolis. 5th ed. New York: HarperCollins.

Hayes, Michael T., 1992. Incrementalism and Public Polig. New York: Longman.

Jennings, Edward T., Jr., 1994. "Building Bridges in the Intergovernmental Arena: Coordinating Employment andTraining Programs in the American States"

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International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2
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